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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-02-22
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Thursday, February 22, 2001
 Cyprus bottom of European teenage drug leagueBy Martin Hellicar CYPRUS can boast lower levels of teenage drug abuse than any other European country, but there are indications that heroin use is growing on the island.
Education Minister Ourannios Ioannides yesterday presented the Cyprus findings of the 30-country ESPAD probe into the drinking, smoking and drug use habits of 16-year-old students.
The ESPAD study puts Cyprus at the bottom of the European league for use of illicit drugs, making a mockery of widespread recent press speculation about spiralling abuse of dangerous narcotics on the island.
The near-hysterical reports have been sparked by televised interviews with heroin addicts and disputed reports that one-in-four Cypriots had dabbled with illegal drugs.
Ioannides said the ESPAD study results were "very good" for Cyprus, but also promised there would be no let-up in government anti-drugs campaigns.
The study showed that a mere 3.5 per cent of Cypriot 16-year-olds had tried drugs, compared to the European average of 18 per cent. Britain tops the 'league of shame', with more than a third, 36 per cent, of all British 16- year-olds having tried illegal drugs.
The study -- for which a quarter, or 2,095, of all Cypriot first year Lyceum students were polled -- also showed that use of illegal narcotics had dropped by about 37 per cent since the last ESPAD study, in 1995.
It also showed very low levels of use of legal drugs - cigarettes and alcohol - in Cyprus compared to the rest of Europe.
The down side of the 1999 study's results are suggestions that heroin is making more of an impact locally.
The number of teenagers using harder drugs like heroin, amphetamines, LSD, crack, cocaine and ecstasy dropped to 1.4 per in 1999, compared to 2 per cent in 1995, the study showed. These figures put Cyprus joint-bottom of the European hard drugs use league.
However, heroin proved the exception to this encouraging pattern.
The number of those trying heroin remained roughly the same, at 1.8 per cent in 1999 compared to 1.9 per cent in 1995. But the ESPAD study also showed that the number of teenage boys who had tried heroin up to nine times had risen by 50 per cent since 1995, from 2.2 per cent to 3.4 per cent.
"Heroin is the only drug showing an increase in the number of boys using it regularly," government drugs expert Dr Damianos Pityris said in presenting the ESPAD study yesterday.
Overall, the number of teenage boys and girls who had used heroin up to nine times was up to 1.2 per cent in 1999 compared to 0.9 per cent in 1995. Even though the number of those who had used heroin more regularly (over 40 times) was down to 0.3 per cent in 1999 compared to 0.8 per cent in 1995, Pityris picked out a worrying heroin-use pattern amongst local teenage girls too.
"Despite the downward trend in overall drug use by girls, heroin is now their favourite except for marijuana. This is in complete contrast to 1995, when heroin was bottom of their preferences," Dr Pityris said.
"This, in conjunction with the increase in heroin use by boys, confirms the need for further study of the phenomenon and for measures to be taken," the government doctor said.
Dr Kyriacos Veresies, who oversaw the Cyprus leg of the ESPAD study, admitted that heroin use was "slightly up", but also said the overall drug- use pattern was far from clear-cut. "It is difficult to see if those going into heroin are those who did hash in past," he said.
But Veresies warned that heroin was becoming more easily available: "The fact that more of the substance is on the market at moment means more people will use it," he said.
Minister Ioannides said he was "terribly worried" by the statistics relating to heroin but also stressed that the number of secondary school students trying heroin had not changed.
Ioannides homed in on the fact that the overall results of the ESPAD study made very encouraging reading for Cyprus.
"These results are very good for Cyprus. But they do not satisfy us, they rather give us reason to be certain our efforts and programmes are bringing results, something which makes us intensify our efforts," the Minister said.
He reeled off a whole list of fresh anti-drug education initiatives the state is undertaking in co-operation with the Church-backed drug battling foundation, KENTHEA.
Bishop Chrysostomos of Kitium said KENTHEA would be turning the buildings of the old leper colony by the Larnaca salt lake into a live-in centre for rehabilitated drug addicts within a matter of weeks.
Donating the leper colony buildings to KENTHEA has been one of a number of recent high-profile government efforts fight drug abuse and placate public concern over the issue. President Clerides has also set up a ministerial drugs council and announced funding for further research into narcotics abuse.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 How Cyprus fares in Euro drugs league
Main Cyprus findings of the 1999 European School Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD):Overall narcotics abuse
· Cyprus is bottom of European league of illicit drug use, 3.5 per cent of Cypriot 16-year-olds having tried drugs, compared to the European average of 18 per cent.
· Use of illegal narcotics in Cyprus has fallen by 37 per cent since the last ESPAD study in 1995. The 1999 study found that 3.5 per cent of Cypriot teenagers had used drugs, compared to 5.6 per cent in 1995.
· Only Rumanian teenagers show less inclination to try cannabis than their Cypriot counterparts. Two per cent of Cypriot teens have tried hashish, whereas the European average is 16 per cent.
· Cannabis remains the most popular drug in Cyprus, but its popularity has dropped. In 1999, 2.5 per cent of 16-year-olds had tried hashish or marijuana, compared to 4.8 per cent in 1995.
Use of harder drugs
· Cyprus and Finland are joint-bottom of the hard drugs use league for Europe. The European average is six per cent, while the Cyprus average hovers around 2 per cent.
· The number of teenagers using harder drugs (heroin, amphetamines, LSD, crack, cocaine and ecstasy) dropped to 1.4 per cent in 1999, compared to 2 per cent in 1995.
· Only three per cent of Cypriot secondary school students have tried mixing alcohol with pills, compared to the European average of 8 per cent.
· Only in use of legal "hard" drugs (tranquillisers and sedatives) can Cyprus compare to the European average. Six per cent of Cypriot teenagers have used such drugs, compared to seven per cent in other European countries.
· The number of Cypriot teenage boys who have tried heroin up to nine times has risen by 50 per cent since 1995, from 2.2 per cent to 3.4 per cent
· The overall number of those trying heroin remained roughly the same, at 1.8 per cent in 1999 compared to 1.9 per cent in 1995.
Use of legal drugs (cigarettes and alcohol)
· Use of legal drugs appears to be declining among Cypriot teenagers. In 1999, 50 per cent of 16-year-old students had tried smoking and 86.2 per cent had tried alcoholic drinks. The equivalent figures for in the 1995 ESPAD study were 52.3 and 90.3 per cent, respectively.
· Boys still smoke and drink more than girls - three times as many boys (25.1 per cent) smoke regularly compared to girls (8.2 per cent).
· Cyprus is 5th from bottom in the European teenage smoking league, only 5 per cent of local teens being regular smokers.
· Half of local teens have tried cigarettes, compared to the European average of 69 per cent.
· Sixteen per cent of Cypriot 16-year-olds smoke every week, compared to 37 per cent of European teens.
· Cyprus is bottom of the European table for teenagers who have been drunk more than ten times. The local figure is 1 per cent - Denmark tops the table with 39 per cent.
· Four-fifths of Cypriot 16-year-olds have tried alcohol, compared to the European average of 83 per cent.
· In 1995, a third of those polled in Cyprus drank regularly, compared to 20.5 per cent in 1999.
· The number of local teenagers who have been drunk at least once is down to 32.4 per cent in 1999, compared to 34.4 per cent in 1995.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Not enough police and insufficient lawsBy Melina Demetriou POLICE are failing to stop minors getting into nightclubs and drinking alcohol, the House Interior Committee charged yesterday, calling on the state to take the necessary measures to enforce the law.
The Committee convened yesterday to discuss the government's responsibility to enforce regulations on nightclub opening hours and underage clubbing and drinking, an issue that has been on the front page of Politis newspaper for the last three days in a row.
People have to be aged 16 or over to get into a club and over 18 to be served alcohol, police said on Tuesday. Owners can be charged if any minors are found in their clubs.
Police officer Nicos Theodorides yesterday told the Committee that they received many complains about children being let into nightclubs and drinking alcohol, but insisted that police carried out "daily" checks to keep things under control.
"Some club owners have already been charged. The Court can fine an offender up to £500 or sentence him to two years in prison. One club owner was recently fined £80 for letting a 13- year-old girl into his nightspot," he told deputies.
But the Committee said such a sentence was excessively lenient.
DIKO's Marios Matsakis asked Theodorides to submit the case file to the House so deputies could review the Court's decision.
Katerina Pantelidou of DISY complained that children as young as 13 were partying in nightclubs every night, some of them drinking heavily.
"There is simply not the adequate policing around nightclubs and doormen never ask for ID. The Police should make more arrests and the courts should impose heavy fines of, say, £1,000 to combat the problem," she suggested.
Committee Chairman Nicos Katsourides of AKEL went further: "Nightspot owners who disobey the law should lose their licence."
Katsourides said parents were no longer controlling their teenagers.
"I'm afraid that 90 per cent of parents are unable to control the children. Youngsters don't even answer their parents when asked where they are going.
"Bear in mind that youngsters are invited to dodgy parties and have easy access to hashish and marijuana," he warned.
Deputies also highlighted the problem of nightspots not shutting by 3am, as the law provides.
Ioannis Kallis, the Mayor of Engomi where much of Nicosia's nightlife is concentrated, told the Committee that many discotheques did not close until 4 or 6am.
"The Police are unable to enforce the law because there are not enough policemen to perform the task. Once, I saw with my own eyes a policeman trying to shut a club, while rebellious youngsters were climbing and jumping on his car. The government should appoint more policemen to do this job because it is not always easy to cope with the masses," he suggested.
"We have to start thinking about the rights of residents, who need some peace of mind," he said.
Ayia Napa Mayor Barbara Pericleous said things were completely out of control in her tourist resort.
"Most clubs close at 5 or 7am," she said.
Deputies concluded that the police could not be everywhere at all times but that the state should impose much heavier fines on offenders to address the problem.
The discussion came on the same day as the publication of a report that showed Cypriot children had the cleanest drink and drugs record in Europe.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 More storms on the wayBy Jenny Curtis PEOPLE were yesterday warned to brace themselves for further storms, with forecasters predicting that high winds and heavy rains would strike again tonight.
In Larnaca this week, speeds reached in excess of 47 knots and temperatures across the island were on average 4 degrees lower than normal.
"We're expecting more intense phenomena on Thursday evening," Loizos Stephanou, the Acting Director for the weather department said. "On Tuesday night temperatures dropped to just one degree and in parts of Troodos, to minus seven."
Much of the mountains are closed to motorists unless they have four-wheel drive or chains and the areas of Kakopetria, Pinewood, Pedhoulas and Spilia are among the worst affected. The same warning applies to parts of the Nicosia district, such as the Plethora, Agros and Sarandi areas. In addition the police are advising people to drive with extra caution to avoid accidents.
The warning was partially prompted by the death of a 31-year-old Anastassios Mavrides from Paphos, who was killed on Tuesday on the main road from Limassol to Paphos in an accident in which the bad weather was reported to have played a major factor.
Fortunately, things are set to pick up over the weekend. On Friday the weather will be unsettled with isolated showers and on Saturday it will improve even further.
On Sunday and Monday temperatures are expected to reach as high as 20 degrees. Meanwhile, this week's heavy rainfall has helped stock the island's dams, with the current level rising to 16.4 per cent of their total capacity, compared to 12 per cent this time last year. "We've already had 66 per cent of this month's rainfall, but it's still not enough and we're hoping that March will bring more," Klitos Piyiotis, Senior Meteorological Superintendent told the Cyprus Mail.
The strong winds wreaked havoc across the island on Tuesday, with trees uprooted, cars overturned and roads closed. However, initial reports that the wind was to blame for the collapse of a supermarket roof have since been dismissed, as investigations have revealed the primary factor was poor construction. Workers at the site narrowly escaped injury when more than 100 tones of cement fell away from the building in Paphos.
According to reports, serious errors have been detected in the building's design, and safety officials from the Labour Ministry were yesterday inspecting the site. It appears that while the bad weather did play a role, it was by no means the main cause for the collapse. Inspectors are now planning to prepare a full report, which will be sent to the Labour Minister in a few days' time.
Meanwhile crews have been working all day to clean up the site and the authorities have organised a clearance of the surrounding area.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Ombudswoman blasts government procrastination on NemitsasBy Athena Karsera THE OMBUDSWOMAN has blasted the government for not acting fast enough to test for pollution around Limassol's Nemitsas foundry.
And the Green Party said yesterday the House and the public had been misled on the matter for 15 years.
The Green's yesterday revealed a February 14 report by Ombudswoman Eliana Nicolaou, which said: "The way the relevant government services have co- operated, the inexcusable omissions and delays in taking and implementing decisions, the ambiguity of the legal framework on protecting the environment, quality of living and public health indicate that the total handling of the problem was faulty and inefficient."
Handing out copies of Nicolaou's report at a news conference yesterday, the Greens said that the only way for similar problems to be prevented was for an independent environment service to be set up.
The report added: "The pollution caused by the Nemitsas factory in the area is an issue that has been before the relevant government services and Limassol Municipality for about 15 years. but it continues to remain unsolved."
Nicolaou said she had come to the conclusion that: "This specific case of pollution of the environment and its effect on the health of the public due to the foundry's operation was not handled with the care and effectiveness that this type of problem requires."
Zakaki and Omonoia residents have continuously complained about toxin pollutants from the Nemitsas foundry. They claim respiratory problems and learning difficulties in children have been caused by the foundry emissions.
Tests began this week to determine whether there is link between foundry emissions and health complaints among local residents. The tests got under way after months of delays in awarding the contract, even though only one company had tendered for the job.
The UK-based team is the same that last year forced the closure of Nicosia's Ergates foundry, after tests showed lethal toxin levels well over World Health Organisation danger levels.
Health Minister Frixos Savvides has promised the same fate for the Nemitsas foundry if tests prove that the factory damages the health of local residents.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Man jailed for $69,000 fraud bidBy George Psyllides A 32-YEAR-old Lebanese man was yesterday sentenced to four months in jail for forging documents in an attempt to swindle $69,000.
From the dock, Antonio Ibrahim, dressed in smart clothes, just stared at the judge as the decision was read out.
He looked eager to get it over with and appeared unconcerned by the sentence.
Ibrahim was arrested outside his house last month as he was about to leave for the airport.
When confronted by police, he said: "I don't know what you're talking about."
Ibrahim was charged with forging a bank document and attempting to defraud his compatriot, Antoine Srour out of $69,000.
During the trial, Srour, a permanent resident of Cyprus who owns an offshore company, told the court he had agreed to employ Ibrahim on a trial basis in the marketing department of his business.
Four days later, on January 19, Srour sacked Ibrahim because he was unsuitable for the job.
But 10 days later Ibrahim faxed the bank where Srour kept his company's account, and ordered the transfer of $69,000 into his own account, which he had opened with the same branch.
The order even carried the security code and signature necessary for such transactions, which Ibrahim stole from the company along with the company letterhead.
But what Ibrahim did not know was that the code changed every day, and an employee duly spotted that the code did not match the current one.
The employee called to confirm the transaction, but an astonished Srour informed him that he had not issued such an order.
Srour notified the police who moved swiftly and arrested Ibrahim before he left the island.
A search of his luggage and flat found a fax machine, two company stamps, and the prototype of the forged document.
Ibrahim pleaded guilty but cited personal conditions and despair pushing him to the crime.
At some point during the trial he said he had been beaten badly in Lebanon, removing a bridge of four teeth in court to prove his point.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Romanian goes on trial for murderBy George Psyllides THE trial of a Romanian man accused of stabbing his compatriot to death began at the Assize court sitting in Larnaca yesterday, with police investigators submitting evidence.
Nineteen-year-old Ionut Vraniceanu was charged with the premeditated murder of Marius Isac, 30, at a cow farm in November last year.
The suspect maintains the stabbing took place in self-defence during a quarrel over what to watch on television.
The two men, both farm workers in the village of Athienou, southeast of Nicosia, had been on a drinking spree on Saturday night.
At around 1am on Sunday, the two men, who by that time had consumed large quantities of alcohol, returned to the suspect's room at the farm and resumed drinking.
According to Vraniceanu, they argued over what to watch on television, and Isac grabbed a large kitchen knife and threatened him.
Vraniceanu managed to wrest the knife off Isac and stabbed him six times in the throat and chest.
He then locked the room and fled on his motorcycle, heading for Larnaca.
On the way, he ran out of petrol and was forced to spend the night in the fields.
At around 12pm he surrendered to police and allegedly admitted to stabbing his friend.
Police said they found bloodstains on the suspect's clothes and shoes.
The owner of the farm, Michalis Karakitis, had found the victim's body earlier that day.
Yesterday, the police investigator testified in court that he had gone to the farm at around 6.30am and gone into the suspect's room.
He found the victim dead, lying in a blood-soaked bed while the floor was littered with broken glass and bloodstains, the court heard.
Inside the small kitchenette, police found a jacket hung on a chair along with clothes.
The jacket was identified by Isac's employer, Kyriacos Theodorou as belonging to the dead man.
Vraniceanu arrived on the island on June 15 and had since worked at Karakitis' farm.
Isac came to Cyprus one month before he was killed - on October 10 - and worked at a neighbouring poultry farm.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001
 Lord Mayor launches UK education campaignBy a Staff Reporter THE BRITISH Council's 'Education UK - the best you can be' campaign was launched in Nicosia last night. The aim of the event, which was attended by prospective students, their families, lecturers and employers, was to promote new improved conditions for overseas students.
A change in British government policy has created additional rights, one of the most significant being that both they and their dependents will now be allowed to work. As well as this, the number of scholarships on offer has been increased - a move that will be particularly beneficial for families who have more than one child studying at a time.
The Lord Mayor of London Alderman David Howard is heading the delegation of business and education experts to the island for the three-day visit. Howard was the keynote speaker at the symposium, and speaking before it said: "London and Cyprus have extremely close ties, both in business and education. I hope my visit will cement this relationship as I want to strengthen the many close links in the financial services industry between Britain and Cyprus. I also express the support of the City for Cyprus' accession to the EU."
During his visit, Howard will meet with ministers and government officials as well as representatives from the Laiki Group and the City University - which have organised the event. He will also be introduced to the Mayor of Nicosia, Lellos Demetriades and will plant a sapling oak tree as a gift from the City of London to the people of Cyprus to commemorate the Third Millennium.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001